7 relievers the Cleveland Guardians could acquire at the MLB trade deadline
The Guardians desperately need bullpen help, so who could they realistically acquire at the trade deadline?
The Cleveland Guardians suddenly have a lot of needs, especially if they want to remain in the postseason discussion the rest of the season.
While the rotation and lineup has recently struggled, the bullpen has had an especially heinous stretch. Going into Saturday’s game against the Royals (after Cleveland blew another game late Friday night), the Guardians’ bullpen had the worst ERA (7.38), FIP (6.14), and fWAR (-0.8) in the entire league since June 23.
Aside from closer Emmanuel Clase, the rest of the bullpen is going through a rough patch right now. Eli Morgan, who was so dominant to start the year, has a 5.91 ERA since June 11. Sam Hentges was a revelation earlier this season as well, but has a 14.40 ERA since June 26. It all pretty much goes downhill from there; not even the return of James Karinchak inspires much confidence, considering he’s relying almost exclusively on his curveball at times.
So, if the Guardians are in the market for some bullpen help – for both this season and potentially into 2023 and beyond – who could they target?
7 Relievers the Cleveland Guardians Could Acquire at the 2022 Trade Deadline
Robertson has been one of the best relievers in baseball for 14 years, so there will be a hefty market for the Cubs’ closer, who has a 2.10 ERA and 12 saves in 34 1/3 innings this season. Even at 37 years of age, Robertson is still blowing guys away, striking out 45 batters. It sure seems like he’s finally recovered from that elbow surgery in 2019; he’s only on a one-year, $3.5 million deal too, so almost any contending team is likely salivating over him.
Sticking with the Cubs, Givens, 32, has a 3.15 ERA in 33 appearances and is basically giving Chicago dependable innings like he’s done for the entirety of his eight-year career. He’s an upcoming free agent this offseason, but he’s exactly the type of veteran presence Cleveland’s bullpen needs.
A few weeks ago, it seemed like the Baltimore Orioles could be on the cusp of a fire sale, but their surprising run has them sniffing Wild Card contention, so trade options could be more limited. However, if López were to become available in the next few weeks, he’d be a great addition to the Guardians’ bullpen, as he sports a 1.74 ERA in 41 1/3 innings with 47 strikeouts and some fantastic Statcast percentiles. Oh, and the 29-year-old doesn’t become a free agent until 2025.
Trivino’s ERA – 6.66 – is scary in a number of ways, but a FIP of 3.02 and an xERA of 3.94 suggests he’s been more unlucky than outright bad this season. The 30-year-old is under team control for two more seasons, and if there’s one team that likes to wheel and deal – and is in desperate need of prospects – it’s the Oakland Athletics.
With a 2023 team option, Bass, 34, could be an enticing trade target if the Marlins decide to sell. He’s easily having the best year of his career, sporting a 1.51 ERA in 35 2/3 innings and excellent Statcast percentiles across the board.
While Cishek’s numbers aren’t going to excite anyone – a 4.50 ERA and 4.49 FIP in 36 innings – Cishek is at least a veteran presence with a very solid track record over 13 seasons. Plus, if the Guardians could swing a deal for both Cishek and Washington first baseman Josh Bell, then you’ve really got something cooking.
Much like his Pirates teammate Bryan Reynolds, Bednar might be nothing more than a pipe dream for other teams. He’s 27 years old with a huge window of control through 2026 and he’s become an elite closer for Pittsburgh, with a 2.25 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 40 innings this season after finishing eighth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2021. It might take a significant haul to get him, but the Guardians would likely love to solidify the backend of their bullpen for years to come.
There are a number of bullpen arms within the AL Central – Michael Fulmer, Scott Barlow, basically everyone else on the Tigers and Royals, etc. – that would certainly be solid fits with the Guardians, but it hardly seems worth helping to improve teams within the division that are in relatively similar positions. Trades within the division can always happen – thanks for Konnor Pilkington, Chicago – but we’ll try to be somewhat realistic here.